Many writers will tell you that the question they’re asked the most often is, “Where do you get your ideas?” I don’t believe I’ve ever been asked that particular question.
So where do I get my ideas?
Pretty simple. Most of my short stories come from either daydreams or real dreams from my slumbering hours. My novel ideas come from daydreams. Quite frequently it’ll start off as something concerning X-Men or Thor or whatever else I’m into at the moment, then when it’s still in my mind it’ll start to mutate and by the time it’s done it doesn’t (or shouldn’t if I’ve done my job properly) look anything like the original fantasy.
Unfortunately, then I begin to write and heaven only knows where the story will really end up. “Night’s Treasure” took about 4 complete go-throughs that had me changing nearly every single detail each time. The manuscript looks nothing like the original attempt at it much less the original mental idea.
These are much easier. My subconscious can whip up some real doozies while I’m asleep. The trick is not forgetting them after I’m awake. Many I do forget because they’re forgettable. Others, like last night’s, I do not forget. I dreamt I had been captured along with a young version of Arnold Schwarzeneger (he was in character, not himself). They separated us and stuck us in a mountain prison-type place with a bunch of other people. Space was extremely limited so there were times I couldn’t move from where I was lying. Then they left us without food or water. Arnold escaped and I hoped he’d come back for me. People devolved and began eating each other. They became sub-human monsters (at least mentally). Others in order to avoid the fate of being eaten or starving to death, threw themselves off cliffs. I was starving. People began eating my feet but I couldn’t move from where I was lying because there wasn’t room. I gave up waiting for Arnold and threw myself off the cliff next to me. I hoped a broken neck would end things quickly but my conscious mind couldn’t bear it so I just kind of skidded and floated down. Then I knew Arnold was coming for me but it was too late.
The dream changed after that into some kind of ghost dream because I’ve been reading lots of ghost stories lately. It was interesting but not like being eaten and throwing myself off a cliff.
Getting a dream to stick…
So this is the dream I take with me. I don’t have time to immediately write it down when I wake up because I have to get myself and my kid ready for the day so I mentally review it over and over while I’m getting ready. This helps the dream stick till I have time to record it. I’ll add it to my list of short story ideas. Maybe I’ll use some version of it as flash fiction. The details of the dream aren’t all that important to me in this particular case; it’s the idea I want to capture. Being closed in, eaten alive, maybe buried alive. Captured or abandoned with no hope. Death closing in.
And already my brain is whirling around these concepts. I think i may just do a flash fiction piece from this dream.
Save Your Dreams!
You can get tons of great ideas when you’re asleep. If you think your dreams are boring, influence them by reading or watching lots of interesting or weird things. I’ve been reading about ghosts a lot lately and last night I dreamt about ghosts.
Try it. After awhile it may work for you too.